From the 1824 Gazetteer of the State of New York, by Horatio Gates Spafford

Wayne County, erected April 11, 1823, from the NW. corner of Ontario, and the N. end of Seneca County, is situated on the S. shore of Lake Ontario, about 200 miles WNW. of Albany, and is bounded N. on Lake Ontario, E. by Cayuga County, S. by Seneca and Ontario Counties, W. by Ontario County. Area, 508 square miles, or 325120 acres.

TownP. Off.Pop.Imp. LandPost Offices, Villages, &c.
GalenP.T.129795994Clyde V. and River, and Erie Canal; Marengo P.O.
LyonsP.T.139728853Lyons V., 205 miles from Albany; Newark P.O.; E. Canal
Macedon *

erected in 1823, from W. half of Palmyra; 20 miles W. of Lyons
OntarioP.T.122335312Inman's X Roads P.O., on Ridge Road; Iron Works
PalmyraP.T.372416292Palmyra V., 14 miles W. of Lyons; Canal; Mud Creek
(*: inclusive of Macedon)
SodusP.T.120135005Sodus V. & Bay; Arms's X Roads P.O., on Ridge Road
WilliamsonP.O.325217386Pulteneyville P.O.; S. Williamson P.O.; Rogers's X R. P.O.
WolcottP.T.128675534E. Wolcott P.O.; Port Glasgow; Sodus East & Port Bays

The County of Wayne, erected at too late a period for the body of this Work, comprises a very ample area of rich and productive land, and enjoys the navigation of Lake Ontario and the Erie Canal, the latter along its southern border, almost across the County. It is watered by the Canandaigua outlet, and Mud creek, which unite at the Village of Lyons, below which their united waters take the name of Clyde river, and by many other streams, noticed, amply, in the Topography. On the Lake, it has Sodus, Little Sodus, and East Bays, the former a pretty good harbor, all affording, also, some conveniences for the Lake trade. This County took 5 Towns from the County of Ontario, (6, including the new Town of Macedon), Lyons, Macedon, Ontario, Palmyra, Sodus, and Williamson, besides a small piece from the N. part of Phelps, attached to Lyons; - and 2 from Seneca Co., Galen and Wolcott, all which are minutely described. See those Towns, and see also the Counties, and spare me the labor of three times going over the same ground. In the early period of the settlement of this country, Mud creek was used for navigation, 20 miles above Lyons, in which distance there is a descent of 40 feet, and some use was made of the Canandaigua outlet, to the Lake, though this stream has a descent now ascertained to be 275 feet, much more than was ever imagined to be the descent of those streams, now so useful for hydraulic works. The Clyde river is navigable from Lyons to the Seneca river, 24 miles, though there is a dam at Clyde V., 12 miles from Lyons, and mills, and a lock. The Village of Lyons, the seat of the County buildings, is situated at the junction of Mud creek with the Canandaigua outlet, (below which the stream takes the name of Clyde river) and on the Erie Canal, 15 miles N. of Geneva, 17 W. of Montezuma, 16 S. of Sodus Point, 28 NW. of Auburn, 23 NE) of Canandaigua, and 34 E. of Rochester. It is a healthy place, on a dry alluvial soil, and was originally laid out by G. Williamson, agent for the Pulteney estate. The County buildings are on a handsome Public Square, and there are now 2 meeting-houses, 90 dwellings, 21 mechanics' shops, 12 stores of goods, 3 apothecaries' shops, 2 school-houses, a brewery, 2 tanneries, 2 asheries, 2 warehouses, a dry dock, 5 bridges, and basins and wharves on the Canal. The Canal elegantly embellishes this Village, which has now a population little short of 1000 persons. A Correspondent says, 'the distance to Albany, by the N. Seneca and Montezuma turnpike, via Utica, is 190 miles,' stated by two others at 205 miles, the reason of my giving both distances.

When Yates was erected from Ontario County, Yates was entitled to elect 1 Member of Assembly, and Ontario was restricted to 5: By the act erecting Wayne, that county elects 2 members, and Ontario is farther reduced to 3, the number each of those Counties are now entitled to elect. Both Yates and Wayne constitute parts of the 26th Congressional district, and of the 7th Senatorial district.

Statistics - Wayne elects 2 Members of Assembly, and forms a part of the 26th Congressional district: Townships, 8; Post-Offices, 14; Population (exclusive of the small annexation from Phelps) 20309; acres of improved land, 54376. For other numbers, see the several Towns. Newark Post-Office, is now in Lyons, as is the Village.


From the 1860 Gazetteer of the State of New York, by J. H. French

This county (1) was formed from Ontario and Seneca, April 11, 1823. It lies upon Lake Ontario, w. of the center of the State; is centrally distant 171 mi. from Albany, and contains 624 sq. mi. A series of bluffs 25 to 75 ft. high extends along the lake shore; and from their summits the surface rises in gradual slopes to the lake ridge, a distance of 4 to 5 mi. This ridge is 50 to 200 ft. wide on the top, and about 200 ft. above the lake. It declines toward the E., and upon the E. border of the co. it can scarcely be traced. The declivity of the ridge upon the S. is 8 to 20 ft.; and from its foot the surface gradually slopes upward to the surface of the limestone ridge, which exends E. and W. through the co., a little N. of the cneter and forms the watershed between Lake Ontario and Clyde River. The summit of this ridge is 140 feet above the lake ridge, 340 feet above the lake, and is about 3 mi. wide. It is highest upon the W. border of the co., and gradually declines toward the E. (2) From its southern edge the surface gradually declines to Clyde River and slopes upward from the river to the S. line of the co. South of the limestone ridge are numerous drift ridges extending N. and S. and from one-fourth to one and a half miles in length. The declivities are usually very steep, and the summits 40 to 100 ft. above the surrounding surface. They usually end in an abrupt declivity toward the N., but gradually decline toward the S. They are composed of clay, sand, and gravel, and seem to be deposits from great currents of water. Considerable marshy land extends along the Clyde and Seneca Rivers, and also through the co. N. of the lake ridge.

Ganargwa, or Mud Creek, enters the S. W. corner of the co. from Ontario, flows in an irregular but generally easterly course to Lyons, where it unites with the Canandaigua Outlet and forms Clyde River, (3) which continues eastward to the E. bounds of the co., where it discharges its waters into Seneca River. These streams receive from the N. West Red Creek, East Red Creek, and Black Creek, and from the S. numerous small brooks. The streams flowing into Lake Ontario are Bear, Deer, Davis, Salmon, Thomas, Wolcott, and Big and Little Red Creeks; First, Second, Great Sodus, East, Port, and Blind Sodus Bays. Great Sodus Bay forms an excellent harbor. Crusoe Lake, in the S. E. corner, is the only considerable body of water. The streams, in their course through the drift deposits and lake ridge, have usually worn deep ravines.

The lowest rock in the co. is the Medina sandstone, (4) appearing upon the lake and in the ravines near it. It occupies a strip with an average width of 2 mi., widest at the W. Next above this is the Clinton group of limestone and shales, extending to the foot of the limestone ridge. Next above is the Niagara limestone, forming the summit ridge and occupying a strip about 3 mi. in width. South of this is the Onondaga salt group of red and green shales and gypsum, extenidng to the S. border and occupying nearly one-half of the co. The rocks are mostly covered by thick deposits of drift, and are only exposed in the ravines of the streams. Shells, marl, and muck are found in large quanities in the marshy regions. Weak brine and sulphur springs are found in various localities in the Medina sandstone and the red shales of the Onondaga salt group.

The soil derived from the drift deposits is generally a sandy or gravelly loam, with an occasional intermixture of clay. The soil along the lake shore, principally derived from the disintegration of Medina sandstone, is a reddish, sandy loam. At the foot of the mountain ridge, both N. and S., is a strip of very productive clay loam. In the valley of Clyde River the soil is principally a gravelly loam and alluvium. The marsh lands, when drained, are covered deep with a rich vegetable mold, which develops into the most fertile soil in the co.

Agriculture forms the leading pursuit. The branches, in the order of importance, are grain raising, stock growing, dairying, and wool growing. Fruit is extensively cultivated, and is rapidly becoming one of the most important agricultural products. Few counties in the State surpass this in the quality and quantity of apples and peaches annually produced. A strip of land bordering upon Lake Ontario, and extending from Niagara River to the Oswego, seems peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of the apples and peaches, and is rapidly becoming one of the most important fruit-growing regions in the State. In Wayne co. $25,000 worth of dried fruit is annually prepared. Peppermint and tobacco are raised along the valley of Mud Creek.

The county seat is located at the village of Lyons, near the center of the co. The courthouse is a fine cut stone building, fronting Church St. It has an Ionic portico, and is surmounted by a large dome. (5) The jail is a commodious stone building, in the W. part of the village. It contains rooms for the jailer's residence, and is one of the best arranged and conducted establishments of the kind in the State. The county clerk's office is a fireproof building, fronting Pearl St., a little S. of the courthouse. The poorhouse is situated upon a farm of 130 acres 1 1/2 mi. W. of the courthouse. The average number of inmates is 67, supported at a weekly cost of $1.55 each. A school is taught throughout the year. The farm yields a revenue of $1,400. The buildings are insufficient for the accommodation of the inmates; but the institution seems to be well arranged and well kept.

Six weekly newspapers are now pubished in the co. (6)

The Erie Canal extends through the S. tier of towns; and along its course are the most populous and thriving villages of the co.(7) The direct branch of the N. Y. Central R. R. between Syracuse and Rochester extends, along the course of the canal, through Savannah, Galen, Lyons, Arcadia, Palmyra, and Macedon. A ship canal (8) route and a R. R. route (9) have been surveyed, connecting the Erie Canal and Central R. R. with Lake Ontario.

The western 9 towns in the co. belonged to the Pulteney Estate; the E. part, including Savannah, Galen, and portions of Wolcott and Butler, consituted a portion of the Military Tract. The intermediate portion, except the S. 3 tiers of lots in Rose, were compensation lands granted to the Pulteney Estate for the gore between the old and new pre-emption lines. The earliest white inhabitants were hunters and trappers. The first permanent settlements were made in 1789, at Palmyra, under the auspices of General John Swift, agent of a company of settlers form Con.; and at Lyons, under Charles Williamson, agent for the Pulteney Estate.(10) From 1790 to 1794, colonies came in from R. I., Long Island, and Maryland.(11) The settlements did not progress with great rapidity for several years, owing to the diseases which prevailed. The fear of Indian hostilities and of British invasion during the War of 1812 greatly retarded settlement. On the return of peace, settlers began to arrive in considerable numbers, principally from New England and Eastern N. Y. The completion of the Erie Canal gave a new impulse to immigration; and in a few years the flourishing villages of Lyons, Clyde, Palmyra, and Newark were built up along its course. The N. Y. Central R. R. built through the co. in 1852-53, greatly benefited the co. and enhanced the value of the lands.

The most notable of the later incidents of the co. have been the rise of Mormonism in Palmyra, and the commencement of spiritual rappings in Arcadia.


  1. Named in honor of Gen. Anthony Wayne.
  2. This peculiar formation is accounted for by the theory that the low regions through the N. and central parts of the co. were once covered by the waters of the lake, and that the limestone ridge was a long bar or point extending into the lake from the W.
  3. Named by Wm. McNab, a Scotchman. At an early date it was navigable as far as Lyons, and was a link in the great chain of Western travel.
  4. This stone is extensively quarried for building stone. It is soft when first taken from the quarry, but hardens upon exposure to the atmosphere.
  5. The first courthouse was a brick edifice, erected soon after the organization of the co. It was superseded, in 1854-55, by the present structure built of Lockport limestone. The building committee of the present courthouse were John Adams, Stephen Marshall, and F. B. Cornwell. The first officers of the co. were John S. Talmadge, First Judge; Hugh Jameson, Sheriff; Wm. H. Adams, District Attorney; Isaiah J. Richardson, Co. Clerk; and John S. Talmadge, Surrogate.
  6. The Wayne Sentinel, The Lyons Republican, The Newark Weekly Courier, The Palmyra Courier, The Clyde Weekly Times, The Wayne Democratic Press.
  7. The enlarged canal crosses Seneca River on the E. border of the co., on an aqueduct built upon 31 arches of 22 feet span each. It crosses Mud Creek, a little W. of Lyons, upon an aqueduct of 5 arches, and again crosses the same stream, N. of Palmyra, upon an aqueduct of 3 arches.
  8. In 1827, a charter was obtained for building a ship canal from the Erie Canal, at Montezuma, to Great Sodus Bay. Surveys were made, but no work was ever done. A new charter was obtained by John Greig, of Canandaigua, in 1836; and another by Gen. Wm. H. Adams, in 1851. The route named in the last charter is from Sodus Bay to the Erie Canal, a little W. of Clyde. Some work has been done on parts of this route.
  9. The Sodus Point & Southern R. R. was incorp. in April, 1852. The road was to extend from Sodus Bay to Newark. The route has been surveyed, but no work has been done. A survey has also been made for a R. R. from Clyde to Sodus Bay.
  10. Mr. Williamson built roads from Palmyra to Lyons to Sodus Point; upon these the early settlers mostly located. He also laid out a city upon Sodus Bay, which has not yet been built.
  11. The Maryland settlers brought with them several slaves; but it was soon found that slave-labor was unprofitable.

Last Revision 1/17/98